By Betty Murray
The Paleo diet is a growing trend, but is there more to this diet than other diet fads that have come and gone?
What is Paleo?
The Paleo diet is considered a lifestyle more than a diet. It isn’t so much about eating foods to lose weight, but eating the right food to keep your body strong and healthy. The Paleo lifestyle is focused on eating whole foods — fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and protein. On the Paleo diet, some foods that other diets consider “healthy” are avoided, including: dairy, grains, legumes (beans), and starches. In addition, alcohol, processed foods, and sugars are also avoided.
Why choose Paleo?
There is much research to support the fact that our modern diet, which is full of processed foods, trans fats, and sugar lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, auto immune diseases, and even infertility.
Although many people who choose the Paleo lifestyle do lose weight, they also find that they are generally healthier and have more energy when they clear their body of the toxins and chemicals contained in refined foods and focus on eating natural, organic foods instead.
How do you start?
A Paleo diet is built around fruits and vegetables; lean proteins; and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil, and grass-fed meat. There are a number of great resources to help you transition your diet to the Paleo lifestyle, but the simplest way of looking at is to focus on eating an organic plant-based diet. If you do eat meats, choose lean meats that are grass-fed and free from hormones.
Take some time to go through your pantry and refrigerator and clear out anything that contains refined sugars, grains, chemicals and additives. If a food product has an ingredients label, it is probably not considered “Paleo-friendly.” Simply put, Paleo foods do not contain ingredients, Paleo foods are the ingredient.
If you need a little help understanding what is and isn’t considered Paleo, Whole9 has some great resources, including the Whole30 30-day cleanse to help you jumpstart your Paleo diet. Visit whole9life.com for more information.
Where do you buy Paleo foods?
You can find Paleo-friendly foods at any grocery story that offers organic produce. Simply focus on shopping the outside aisles of the store, avoiding any processed food products. Natural grocers such as Sprouts and Whole Foods are also great places to find healthy, Paleo-friendly foods, although not everything you buy at a natural grocery story would be considered Paleo-friendly.
There is a common misconception that the Paleo lifestyle is expensive. When you eliminate all processed and refined foods and only purchase natural foods such as fresh produce, you likely won’t see a significant increase in your grocery bill. Shopping at local farmer’s markets or participating in area food co-ops, such as Bountiful Baskets, is also a great option for purchasing natural, whole foods on a budget.
Another important thought to consider is how much you are spending on healthcare and doctors visits. If you think you can’t afford to eat healthy foods, consider this: Can you afford to not be healthy?
A transition to the Paleo lifestyle can improve your health, help you lose weight, have more energy, and lead a longer, healthier life.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.